Kirkstall’s community garden

Every year almost seven million tonnes worth of food is thrown to waste from our homes in the UK.

Staggeringly, more than half of the food we throw away could have been saved and put to use at a later date. This amount of wastage is not sustainable as it is estimated the landfill sites across the UK will be completely full by 2018. However projects like Kirkstall Community Garden are trying to bring such problems to the attention of the people of Leeds and provide people with the skills to produce sustainable food.

Paul long, founder of the Kirkstall community garden, seized upon the opportunity to transform a once site of a dumping ground into the setting for the garden. Thanks to help from volunteers within the community and the universities in Leeds the project was able to take shape into what is now a haven for sustainable food and education. The sensory appealing allotment site features an assortment of plots to grow vegetables as well as a handcrafted outdoor cooking area, chicken coup and bee hive.

Promoting community engagement and working to provide a greener and healthier Kirkstall is what the community garden is committed to achieving. Whilst wandering amongst of the array of flower beds and plots, Paul Long explained that the entire project is community led and should be embraced by those living within the area. The non-profit Community Garden provides people living in the area without gardens or large quantities of outdoor space, such as in terraces and flats, the opportunity to try their hand at gardening. Paul, through his garden, aims to bring people together in the community and encourage sharing recipes as well as food grown on the site; “there is a real diversity within the area, but food is something which we all have in common” he added.

The community garden directs a lot of its attention to educating children about growing food, with Mr Long going on to explain he was inspired to create the garden by his daughter – providing her and other children that there is more to food than just going to the supermarket. The garden aims to ensure children have a greater respect for the food in which they are eating by educating them on the process of growing food, the time it takes and the skills involved, all of which should hopefully encourage people to not waste as much food in the future. The allotment is equipped with four plots solely dedicated to providing children with their own square foot to grow vegetables and gain a real understanding for the food they are eating. “Here at the garden we teach children about the uses of food from seeds to compost” Paul added. As well as being an outlet to educate children the community garden is on hand to offer help to anyone within the community. Youth offenders or unemployed people in the area are encouraged by the community garden to get involved in projects ongoing at the allotment site.

The community garden believes that food in the UK can become much more sustainable, importing large quantities of food is one of the factors that needs changing according to Kirkstall community garden; “Why are we all comfortable importing food that can be easily grown in Britain?” Mr Long asked.

Kirkstall Community Garden hope to be able to collaborate with schools in the area with the aims of inspiring children as well as set up an astronomy club that would be based at the garden.

Photo courtesy of Alice Hennemann via Creative Commons

Originally published to City Zen Vol 01 – Dec 2015

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